UNLOADING – From left, Kent Barkhau, Linda Behnken and Terry Perensovich unload fish at the Seafood Producers Co-op dock from the F/V Woodstock recently. Behnken, executive director of Alaska Longline Fishermen's Association, talked to the Sentinel about an ALFA program to distribute 49,000 pounds of salmon to villages affected by poor subsistence fish returns. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

BIA Seeks Change in Way Natives Get Tribal Status

JUNEAU (AP) — Alaska tribes seeking federal status will have to demonstrate more than 80 years of history under a new process proposed by the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
The proposed rule would require Alaska Native groups seeking tribal status to prove a common bond back to at least 1936, CoastAlaska reported  Wednesday.
The bureau would settle expectations among tribes petitioning the federal government, the state of Alaska, tribes already federally recognized, and local governments, the agency said.
The Department of the Interior currently reviews petitions on a case-by-case basis.
“This proposed rule would not affect the status of tribes that are already federally recognized,” the BIA wrote.
An attorney representing two unrecognized tribes that have been trying to gain federal recognition since the 1990s said a new rule could further slow the process.
Michael Willis represents the Qutekcak Native Tribe in Seward and the Knugank tribe near Dillingham in the Bristol Bay region.
“It seems like the Department of Interior is trying to find ways to delay yet again rather than treat the Qutekcak Native Tribe consistently with other Alaska Native entities who have organized under the Alaska IRA,” Willis said in reference to the Alaska Indian Reorganization Act, the law that guides tribal recognition.
Several tribes and Alaska Native organizations expressed skepticism that a new rule would be necessary. There was also criticism of the BIA for sending letters to tribal leaders during the peak fishing season in early July.
“The arrival of a ‘Dear Leader’ letter, much of it written with legalese, during the subsistence season prompted widespread concern and forced tribal leaders to choose between subsistence and consultation,” wrote Vivian Korthuis, CEO of the Association of Village Council Presidents in Bethel.
The Bureau of Indian Affairs did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

August 5, 2020

A Note To Our Readers

Reopening: Phase One:


On March 30 the Daily Sitka Sentinel began taking precautions against the coronavirus, which was starting to show up in Alaska.

We closed our building to the public and four key employees started working remotely. Home delivery was suspended to protect our carriers from exposure to the virus.

Four months later, the virus is still with us and the precautions remain in effect.

In appreciation for the willingness of our subscribers to pick up their daily paper at drop-off sites, the Sentinel was free to all readers, and subscriptions were extended without charge.

As of August 1 the Sentinel is once again charging for subscriptions, but the present method of having subscribers pick up their papers at designated sites will continue.

The expiration date of all subscriptions has been extended without charge for an additional four months.

We thank our readers for their support in these uncertain times, and especially those who paid for the paper despite the free offer.

We look forward to the time when we can safely resume home delivery.

To check on the expiration of your subscription or to make a payment please call 747-3219. The subscription email address is This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . We also will be mailing out reminder cards.

The single copy price is again 75 cents. The news racks do not require coins to open, but we ask that the 75 cents for a non-subscription single copy sale be paid with coins in the slot.

– The Sitka Sentinel Staff


Login Form



Alaska COVID-19
At a Glance

(updated 9-18-20)

By Sentinel Staff

The state Department of Health and Social Services has posted the following update on the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Alaska as of 10:30 a.m. Friday.

New cases as of Thursday: 108

Total statewide – 6,658

Total (cumulative) deaths – 45

Active cases in Sitka – 30 (20 resident; 10 non-resident) *

Recovered cases in Sitka – 26 (22 resident; 4 non-resident) *

The state says the cumulative number of cases hospitalized is 257.

To visit the Alaska DHSS Corona Response dashboard website click here.

* These numbers reflect State of Alaska data. Local cases may not immediately appear on DHSS site, or are reported on patient’s town of residence rather than Sitka’s statistics. 




September 2000

Photo caption: First-grader Megan Polasky happily holds a large turnip as she and other first-graders from Baranof Elementary School harvest some of the vegetables they planted last spring as kindergartners behind the Russian Bishop’s House. Park Service Ranger Harvey Brandt, center, watches over the gardening project.

September 1970

The Sentinel adds its congratulations to the following persons listed on the Woman’s Club community calender: Earl E. Smith, Wallis George, Frank Williams, Robert Blankenship, and Frank O. Williams Sr., whose birthdays are today, and Ed and Monte Littlefield, whose anniversary is today.